The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

Suzanne Collins’ ‘The Hunger Games’ book series has been very popular.  Spawning several spin-offs and raking in dollars, it was inevitable Hollywood would call.  Perfectly capturing the ‘franchise’ mentality of current commercial film-making, ‘The Hunger Games’ has been a licence to print cash. Stretching out the finale in the bid for more filthy lucre, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2’ concludes the cash-cow to the expected sadness of its producers.


Determined to confront evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland), Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) aims to rid the nation of Panem of his wicked tyranny.  Helped by friends Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss risks her life to endure one final game in the hopes of creating a brighter future for her people.


‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2’ bucks the recent trend of extended finales.  Whilst stretches of padding are evident, this second chapter of the last book works better than the endings for ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Twilight’.  Francis Lawrence’s direction has a lot to do with this, as he manages to keep the action and story moving.  It comes apart a little with a somewhat jumbled ending but until then it is diverting viewing.  The series’ themes of media manipulation and survival at any cost are mixed well into the narrative and are strongly conveyed.


Jennifer Lawrence and her co-stars effectively step into the breach for the final time.  Lawrence’s heroine is forced to endure the politicking as well as plotting revenge against the President.  As the evil dictator, Sutherland has the most fun, spitting forth his lines with velvety venom.  Their characters manage to hide the mechanical predictability of the franchise although the action sequences and moments of genuine tension make this instalment more memorable than most.


‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2’ mostly delivers a stirring finale.  With news of a prequel/spin-off series being developed, it seems franchises can be squeezed for all they’re worth.  For now, the series ends on a reasonable high that should satisfy the book’s hard-core fans.


Rating out of 10:  6



Secret in their Eyes

Everyone likes a good mystery.  Sifting through clues trying to uncover a secret is something most enjoy.  Agatha Christie built a career on this as her countless books attest.  ‘Secret in their Eyes’ takes cue from these puzzle solvers.  An intriguing amalgamation of thriller and searing drama, crime enthusiasts should find much to divert their questioning attention.


FBI investigators Ray (Chiwetel Ejofor) and Jess (Julia Roberts) and supervisor District Attorney Claire (Nicole Kidman) form a close team.  Their bond is soon torn apart when Jess’s daughter is found murdered.  Years later Ray discovers new clues to the crime.  Determined to catch the killer, Ray re-teams with his friends to finally put to rest ghosts of the past.


‘Secret in their eyes’ is a decent thriller effectively engaging the mind.  Supporting by a fine trio of strong performers, the story’s twists are well handled.  Whilst primarily a mystery ‘Secret in their Eyes’ deals with the bonds of friendship and eternal regrets.  The trio’s emotional state flings them in unknown directions forcing them to confront buried issues.  How they handle these forms the basis of genuine conflict between them adding to the film’s intensity.


Billy Ray directs ‘Secret in their Eyes’ with workmanlike precision.  Although his direction highlights the plot’s predictable elements, Ray manages to draw the best from his cast.  ‘Secret in their Eyes’ is a character-driven movie rather than relying too much on action which suits the material.  Ray realises this with some powerful scenes between characters.  The central mystery is interesting with a conclusion hard to predict.


A serviceable thriller mystery mavens should enjoy, ‘Secret in their Eyes’ works.  The strong cast and nicely paced script make for an arresting few hours for budding detectives of any age.


Rating out of 10:  7